Villain Epics mere lackeys? Not likely

When the City of Villains Devs first mentioned that the new Villain Epic Archetypes were going to be Soldiers of Arachnos, some players were apprehensive. They didn't see how a mere rank-and-file member of a villainous organization was going to be any fun to play. Arachnos is a stratified, militaristic outfit, and people make villains in order to break the rules, right? So what's the fun in being a uniformed lackey?

As it turns out, the Devs have tackled this head-on in the Epic Villain AT story arc. The key point is that all player villains in CoV so far have been special, because they're Destined Ones, potentially fated to overcome all other villains in a war for ultimate supremacy.

So how does an Arachnos minion fit into the concept of Destined Ones?
Lead designer Matt 'Positron' Miller explains:

'Yes, your storyline is thrust upon you, but that is because of the main storyline of
CoV. The Destined One. It permeates EVERYTHING in CoV because it is assumed that if you are playing a Villain, then you are on the Destined One list. NPC chatter refers to it, story arcs refer to it, the whole dang game revolves around it.

'So of COURSE the SoA story is going to tie into the Destined One story. Otherwise we'd have to rewrite most of CoV's content so it could ignore a person's Destined One status. Since that wasn't going to happen, I crafted a story (with help from Manticore and Hero 1) that has you as a Pro-Active member of Arachnos. You have a plan, and you carry it out from level 1 to 50, all the while interacting with the other content CoV has to offer.'

Unlike other villains, you're not broken out of the Zig. Your very first mission is called 'Minion No More', and involves you breaking into an Arachnos facility to add your name to the Destined One list. What you haven't been gifted with by birth, you set out to get by your own ingenuity. From that point on, you carry out plots and schemes to entrench yourself deeper into your assumed destiny.

As for the uniformity of appearance that some players were worried about, that's tackled at level 10 when you can run a mission (as part of your overall arc) that grants you a new costume slot early. The in-game explanation is a bit on the hand-waving side, but the important point is that characters need not even look like Arachnos minions after level 10. The one exception is the crab spider backpack, which is fused to your spine and won't come off. This only applies to those who take the Crab Spider branch, and it's hardly a restriction. If you want powers whose animation involves your spider arms, then you can't very well do without the spider arms.

How does the story end? We're not about to give that away, but let's just say your character's exploits shock some important people, and you have the chance to make your mark in a most appropriate way. With this story arc, the Devs may have succeeded in balancing the appeal of the Arachnos identity - which, let's face it, is a cool piece of design - with the all-important element of player freedom.

Face down the forces of evil! Give good a quick jab to the jaw! Massively has all the CoX Issue 12 news you can handle. Make sure to check it out!
This article was originally published on Massively.